In a 30-minute span one morning this summer, Hamas sent a barrage of 13 Qassam rockets at Israel. This is what life is about here in the Holy Land. Considering how much controversy surrounds this tiny sliver of real estate on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it is amazing that some theologians actually don't believe that the rebirthed nation of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy.
The Scriptures back that statement up:
- "For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land" (Ezek. 36:24, NIV).
- "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your own land" (Jer. 29:14, NLT).
- "For the time is coming when I will restore the fortunes of my people of Israel and Judah. I will bring them home to this land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it and live here again. I, the Lord, have spoken!" (Jer. 30:3, NLT, and dozens of other prophecies).
Biblically, there can be no doubt that God promised long ago that He would bring the Jewish people back to Israel. We know from Zechariah 14 that there will be Jews in Jerusalem, albeit in the midst of war, when Jesus returns.
Paul pleaded with his friends in Rome not to be deceived on this issue. He basically prophesied that the church would be tempted to judge the Jewish people and treat them harshly. He warned them of dire consequences:
"[Israel was] broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israel), he will not spare you either.
"Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again (Rom. 11:20-23; emphasis added).
It would be easy to simply focus on verse 23—that God can save Israel again—but first we have to be honest concerning a bloody history. Sadly, the church did not heed the words of the rabbi from Tarsus. Instead, it not only judged Israel but also persecuted the Jewish people many times—even to the point of death.
One could say that the Roman Catholic Church judged Israel for embracing a works righteousness based on human tradition. The judgment would be correct, but God has not called the church to judge Israel, but to "provoke her to jealousy" (Rom. 11:11). Did not the Catholic Church become the very thing it judged? I have been to Rome and indeed it is beautiful—but it is dead.
The popes and cardinals forbade the reading of Scripture to not only the common people, but even most priests were denied this luxury. This enabled them to control the people and teach unbiblical doctrines such as purgatory—which in truth had nothing to do with theology, but fund raising. They told their people that when they gave indulgences, their dead relatives would be released into heaven.
They persuaded hundreds of thousands to march in the Crusades by promising them heaven if killed in battle. Add 72 virgins and you've got al-Qaeda or Hamas.
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